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Restaurant Locations - Nags Head

Restaurants - Nags Head

When visitors to Nags Head ask about the best place to eat, locals may hesitate. Don’t worry. It has nothing to do with the food served here. It’s because their brain immediately floods with countless choices from casual cooking to creative cuisine.

You can pick up a scrumptious deli sandwich and picnic on the beach or dine in award-winning restaurants. As the popular saying goes, “It’s all good.” Naturally you’ll discover plenty of seafood selections varying from traditional fried fish with slaw to tuna-, crab- and eel-filled Japanese dragon rolls. Warm up with Hatteras clam chowder, savor mesquite grilled tuna or fill up on steamers. Meat lovers will appreciate the local barbecue haunts and plentiful prime rib specials. From pizza to lobster, you’ll satisfy any morning, noon or night craving. Dining attire is your choice. It’s not unusual for casual clothing to be worn in fine dining establishments. This is the beach after all!

Remember that locals call Croatan Highway—aka U.S. Highway 158—The Bypass, and they refer to Virginia Dare Trail—aka N.C. Highway 12—as the Beach Road. Those simple names are just easier to remember!

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Basnight’s Lone Cedar

  • 7623 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head/Manteo Causeway
  • Nags Head

This Outer Banks landmark is where you’ll find many a local eating every night, so you know the food must be really good. This restaurant is, in fact, at the top of the list of many locals’ favorite spots. The service is genuinely friendly, and the portions are more than generous. You’ll enjoy the vast views of the sound and dining on their outdoor deck overlooking the osprey nest. Basnight’s serves brunch Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner seven nights a week beginning at 4:30 p.m. (During the off-season, the days they serve dinner vary, so call ahead.) They feature only local, fresh North Carolina seafood that comes in whole and is cleaned in their kitchen, along with vegetarian dishes, pasta and USDA Angus steaks. Their dedication to freshness includes their own herb garden. They also serve local produce as well as all-natural chicken. And you will marvel at their incredible wine cellar (well, it’s a room, really) featuring thousands of bottles of wine. This accompanies a roomy bar area where you can pick from a new bar menu full of tasty offerings or order right from the full restaurant menu. They also have karaoke or live music in the bar area on Friday and Saturday nights. Each year, they close December 31 and re-open right before Valentine’s Day. Basnight’s also offers on- and off-premise catering for any size or type of event.

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Brine and Bottle

  • 7531 South Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head/Manteo Causeway, Caribbean Professional Center
  • Nags Head

The Brine and Bottle stands out on the Outer Banks restaurant scene for its resolute commitment to utilizing seasonal, fresh, local ingredients. It’s owned and operated by two North Carolina natives, chef Andrew Donovan and sommelier Ashley Whitfield, who work with fishermen and farmers in Dare and nearby Currituck and Martin counties to source local ingredients. Indoors in the cozy dining room or outdoors on the spacious waterfront deck overlooking the Roanoke Sound, enjoy carefully selected wines and craft beers as well as seasonal Southern fare, including the customer favorite shrimp and grits with fried N.C. grit cakes. Donovan, who won the 2011 Taste of the Beach Chefs Choice Award, changes the dinner menu nightly, depending on what’s fresh. Take home such goodies as Maldon sea salt, house blend coffee, grits, wine and beer, bacon jam and pickles, which are canned in house (think dill beans, pickled okra and more). The Brine and Bottle’s selection of wines and beers changes frequently, and there are always a few North Carolina selections available. During the summer season, the restaurant is open for dinner nightly, and live music on the deck is a Thursday evening feature from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Call for off-season hours. Catering services are available, both on-site and off-site.

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Dunes Restaurant

  • 7018 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Bypass, MP 16.5
  • Nags Head

Dunes Restaurant is a Nags Head tradition that’s been serving breakfast, lunch and dinner for 31 seasons. They have an award-winning breakfast menu that includes a hearty breakfast and fresh fruit bar daily in season. At dinner, there is an all-you-can-eat salad bar, Angus burgers and steaks and, of course, fresh-cooked, local seafood. If you like Southern fried chicken, this is a Dunes’ specialty. And on most nights diners can choose from a variety of delicious specials. Lunch is served starting Memorial Day weekend with burgers, salads and lots of local favorites. While you wait for a table, or whenever you just want a quick meal, the “R” Bar is a comfortable spot to grab a mixed drink, wine or featured North Carolina beers and lighter fare.

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Fatboyz Ice Cream & Grill

  • 7208 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 16.5
  • Nags Head

This popular take-out food and ice cream stand serves up an array of ice cream concoctions — shakes, sundaes, cones — as well as hand-pattied burgers, fresh grilled tuna, French fries, Hebrew National hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, onion rings, fresh-squeezed orange/lime/lemonades and more. Try their no-filler, all-killer jumbo crabcake! The ice cream is absolutely delectable, and you must try Stacie’s delicious ice cream cakes for special occasions. Fatboyz is located across the street from Jennette’s Pier, and you can eat on-site at a handful of tables on the side deck. Though the line is often long at this very popular spot, don’t despair; it moves very quickly.

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Food Dudes Kitchen

  • 1216 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 9, Seashore Shops
  • Kill Devil Hills

Food Dudes is a place that really is all about the food. With years of experience working in the best local kitchens, the Food Dudes are big on preparing the best food from the best seasonal ingredients. While the regular menu is simple enough to showcase the unique flavors of their food, their daily specials board really showcases their talents and the variety of options you’ll have to choose from. They feature vegetarian dishes, local seafood and organic and local produce from Currituck County farms whenever possible. You can dine in and enjoy beer and wine with your meal or get take-out. Food Dudes is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and offers a nice Sunday brunch and taco night on Thursdays. The owner says “drop in and dine any time at milepost nine.”

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Front Porch Cafe

  • 2515 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 10
  • Nags Head

A community coffeehouse with deliciously fresh-roasted coffee, the Nags Head Front Porch features generous amounts of seating and parking and a lounge/art space to relax and enjoy your coffee and the hand-painted mural by local artist Dawn Gray. They have live music on the new stage area, which doubles as a kids story time space during the summer. Front Porch is known for offering the best artisan-roasted coffee on the beach. They serve an array of specialty coffee drinks, teas and chai. Fresh pastries like croissants, muffins, cinnamon buns and turnovers are baked on site. A wide variety of whole bean coffees are for sale. This is a great place to hang out — it’s open year round with free wireless Internet access, extended summer evening hours and a community bulletin board with local news and events. The Front Porch has two other locations, one in Kill Devil Hills at MP 6 and the other on the main highway in Manteo.

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Kelly’s Outer Banks Restaurant and Tavern

  • 2316 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 10.5
  • Nags Head

Kelly’s is an Outer Banks favorite serving beef, chicken, pasta, vegetarian dishes and, of course, seafood, including raw bar selections. You will enjoy their signature sweet potato biscuits, featured in Gourmet Magazine and savored by the thousands. Kelly’s offers three different menus, including one for children and lighter fare in the tavern. They will seat you for dinner until 10 p.m., so you won’t have to sacrifice having a good meal just because it’s late. You’ll want to save room for their delicious homemade desserts created by two-time Taste of the Beach Best Dessert award-winner Pastry Chef Becky Miller. The separate, full-service bar presents nightly entertainment. You can reserve space for a private party in any of their rooms, including the tavern, or you can hire Kelly’s for top-notch catering with or without wait staff. Kelly’s is open for dinner and entertainment year round, and the tavern is one of the top hot spots of the Outer Banks, attracting some of big names in the music industry. If you want to see and be seen, put this one on your list.

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Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant

  • 6916 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 16
  • Nags Head

One of the few soundfront restaurants on the beach, Miller’s serves lunch and dinner daily, which allows you ample time to enjoy the view. They can handle families and large parties and have a varied menu with local seafood, steaks, chicken and creative salads and pastas. The kitchen prepares unique specials every day. They really do have one of the best sunset views, and you can have fun watching windsurfers and kiteboarders during the day or enjoying music and a cocktail in the evening. The pier and gazebo over the sound are a big hit.

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Old Nags Head Cafe

  • 3948 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 13
  • Nags Head

Old Nags Head Cafe continues the Roderer family tradition of great food and hospitality they’ve been offering Nags Head diners since 1985. Housed in the historic Harris Grocery store on the beach road along Nags Head’s row of unpainted aristocratic cottages – the cottages that established Nags Head as a vacation destination—and across from Jockey’s Ridge, Old Nags Head Cafe offers traditional and contemporary Southern dishes as well as the best in fresh local seafood, chicken, chops, hand-cut Angus beef, pasta, soups, salads, sandwiches, daily specials and homemade desserts. They’ve also started serving breakfast, and it’s sure to become a favorite spot; the omelettes and French toast are fabulous! Old Nags Head Cafe has a full-service bar with an extensive beer and wine list. Take-out is available.

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Outer Banks Restaurant Tours

  • Various Meeting Places in Kitty Hawk, Duck and Corolla
  • Kitty Hawk

Outer Banks Restaurant Tours provides walking and driving tours of restaurants in three locations on the Outer Banks. On each tour, chefs and owners greet you, talk to you about their background, their restaurant, their food and their passions and give you a behind-the-scenes look at their restaurant. You are treated to delectable samples of signature dishes, paired with wine, beer or a mixed drink. Along the way, you’re also likely to learn a little history about the Outer Banks and local food sourcing and get a few wine or beer tasting tips. The best thing about these tours is that for the price of one dinner out, you are able to sample the cuisine at multiple restaurants in one afternoon. What better way to find the best places to eat if you are a new visitor to the area? The Duck Walking Tour takes you on foot from one end of the quaint town to the other, sampling great food and strolling on the boardwalk where you’ll have gorgeous views of the Currituck sound. The Kitty Hawk/Kill Devil Hills Driving Tour transports you in their company vehicle to the rock stars of the Outer Banks restaurant scene, and the Corolla Driving Tour features a short ride in their vehicles on the north end of Corolla where some surprising plates of delicious food await you. Even if you are a return visitor or if you are fortunate enough to live here, these restaurant tours allow you to revisit your old favorites and rediscover them in a whole new, more personal way. Outer Banks Restaurant Tours also offers a Brews and Bites Tour on Wednesdays and a Winery Tour on Thursdays. New to the schedule for 2014 is a BBQ class: Secrets of a BBQ Master! Tours start the week of May 19, 2014, and run through the end of September 2014. Reservations are required.

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Owens’ Restaurant

  • 7114 S Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 16.5
  • Nags Head

Owens’ is a Nags Head institution, featuring a legacy of fine dining by the sea since 1946. Diners can enjoy generous portions of fresh fish and shellfish from local watermen, whole Maine lobster, pasta, aged Harris ranch prime beef and outrageous house-made desserts. All entrees include a traditional crock of cheese with crackers as a starter. Owens’ also offers crisp, fresh garden salads drizzled with your choice of several delicious house-made dressings. Everything is seasoned with the famous hospitality of the family that has guided Owens’ for 67 years. Owens’ has an exceptional wine list, and they offer special buffets on Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day that are hugely popular. History buffs will marvel at Owens’ collections of museum-quality artifacts dedicated to the maritime history of the Outer Banks.

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Pamlico Jack’s

  • 6708 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 16
  • Nags Head

Pamlico Jack’s is a casual restaurant experience that combines the history of the Outer Banks with island cuisine. The outdoor bar is a pirate ship, complete with sails and rigging, that leads you onto a large soundfront open-air deck with scenic sunset views. Enjoy certified Angus beef, Gulf Stream fish and homemade pasta selections. You can also savor any number of smaller plates and lighter fare such as sandwiches and salads. Arrive before 6 p.m. to catch their early dining specials. On various holidays, such as Easter, Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving, Pamlico Jack’s serves up a bounty with their special 30+ item buffet (make your reservations early!). They also offer hundreds of wine choices (they have the honor of being the winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for more than 20 years in a row). Pamlico Jack’s specializes in rehearsal dinners and weddings and can accommodate large gatherings. A kids’ menu is available. Open for dinner nightly from March through December, they do accept reservations. Join them for entertainment nightly at Rum Jumpers, their outdoor deck bar.

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Red Drum Grille and Taphouse

  • 2412 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 10
  • Nags Head

Dine in cozy ambiance and enjoy a variety of lunch and dinner dishes, including sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips and steamed seafood and vegetables plus ribs, steaks, vegetarian dishes, seafood pasta and more. Like the setting, the food could be dubbed “comfort with an upscale dash.” Most any beer lover will be happy as a clam here with 18 beers on tap. Red Drum is closed December and January and reopens in February around President’s Day weekend.

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Tale of the Whale

  • 7575 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head/Manteo Causeway
  • Nags Head

Owned and operated by the same family since 1980, Tale of the Whale has made a legendary name for itself on the Outer Banks dining scene. On a beautiful soundfront location along the Nags Head/Manteo Causeway, Tale of the Whale attracts a loyal following of repeat customers who are on a first-name basis with the friendly owners. Of course, they also come for the casually elegant setting, that water view and the expertly prepared seafood, pasta, steaks and chicken. Tale of the Whale proudly participates in the Outer Banks Catch program and serves locally harvested seafood. All of the desserts are homemade. A full bar is available, and you can sit outside on the deck with your cocktail if you choose. There’s often live music in the waterfront gazebo in season; call for more details. Tale of the Whale’s popular early bird special starts at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. depending upon the season, offering 20 percent off the entire check (excluding alcohol). The restaurant is open for dinner daily in the summer; call ahead for off-season hours. Tale of the Whale is an excellent space for private waterfront events such as rehearsal dinners, wedding receptions and more.

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Tortuga’s Lie Shellfish Bar and Grille

  • 3016 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 11
  • Nags Head

The island-style interior and good food make Tortuga’s a favorite among locals and repeat visitors. There are lots of healthy options here, with Caribbean-inspired seafood and vegetarian options. Chow down on a variety of dishes, including tuna bites, burritos, steamed seafood and veggies and pasta. If there’s a salad on the specials board when you’re there, take our word for it and order it. Tortuga’s has some of the best burgers and island fries on the beach, and their famous sushi night on Wednesdays is a huge hit. They roll sushi late night in the summer and during regular dinner hours in the off-season. There is a full bar with lots of specialty drinks, including their notorious Shark Attack. Be sure to check out the beach volleyball court in the back. Tortuga’s is open daily for lunch and dinner with the hours changing in the winter.

Applebee’s

  • 5002 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 14.5
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 441-3652

You’re probably already familiar with the affordable and delicious food the Applebee’s chain serves. They have great trio appetizers, salads, soups, sandwiches, steaks and seafood on the menu. A full bar keeps the atmosphere lively. Applebee’s is open for lunch and dinner year round.

Blue Moon Beach Grill

  • 4104 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 13, Surfside Plaza
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 261-BLUE

The Blue Moon Beach Grill is, in their own words, “a quirky, fun-filled dining experience,” and we couldn’t agree more, except to add the descriptions delicious, friendly and affordable. Family owned, they serve a great mix of Southern comfort food and creative lunch and dinner specials like Caribbean pulled-pork sandwiches and shrimp and grits. A fun atmosphere, warm and friendly service, fully stocked bar and fresh local seafood will keep you coming back. Blue Moon is open every day for lunch and dinner during the summer season (May–September) with daily specials created by Chef Scott Shields; hours are cut back a little during the off-season (closed Sundays). Take-out and a kids’ menu are also available.

Cafe Lachine

  • 5000 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, Unit N1, MP 14
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 715-2550

Need a meal that’s fresh and quick but way healthier than fast food? Cafe Lachine is a small Nags Head eatery that serves freshly prepared, delicious fare for breakfast, lunch and early dinner. Eat inside in their new dining area, enjoy your meal outside at the bistro tables or order take-out. The menu includes sandwiches on homemade bread, soups, salads and baked goods, including breakfast pastries, cookies, cupcakes and custom cakes. Breakfast features muffins, scones and pastries plus egg and meat sandwiches and wraps. Lunch and dinner sandwiches include wraps, a Cuban press, a crab cake sandwich, egg and chicken salad and more, and the side dishes are creative (think three-bean salad, tabbouleh and sweet potato fries along with more traditional offerings). Cafe Lachine is open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. serving breakfast and lunch. They deliver lunch in Nags Head from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Ask about the picnics to go and the box lunch specials. They are also open for full-service dinners Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m to 9 p.m. and serve beer and wine along with their diverse menu. This is a great place to pick up dessert, and they need only 24-hours’ notice for a specialty cake.
Catering is one of Cafe Lachine’s specialties. The owners, husband and wife team Johanna and Justin Lachine, are cooking school graduates, and they have a great deal of experience in catering events of all sizes. Whether you need a party platter, an outdoor barbecue, a wedding buffet or sit-down dinner, they can fulfill your wishes. Check out their catering menus online.

Country Deli

  • 4104 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 13, Surfside Plaza
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 441-5684

This year-round take-out deli features lunch and dinner selections including a variety of sumptuous specialty sandwiches as well as the basics like grilled cheeses and steak sandwiches. You’ll be surprised at how high they pile their sandwiches and subs. They have a good selection of bottled beverages and chips. Free delivery is available within a specific area; give them a call to find out if you’re in their delivery zone.

Dirty Dick’s Crab House

  • 2407 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 10.5
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 449-CRAB

Dirty Dick’s is a fun-loving restaurant that serves up seriously good food. The menu pays homage to New Orleans and Louisiana cuisine with dishes such as seafood gumbo and Po Boys, but it also offers a vast array of classic seafood favorites, including the biggest variety of crab preparations we’ve ever seen. Steaks, chicken, pork, burgers, ribs, salads, unusual sides and appetizers and sandwiches round out the offerings. Check out their popular T-shirts and other merchandise. There is also a location in Avon.

Dune Burger Inc.

  • 7308 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 16.5
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 441-2441

At Dune Burger you can enjoy fast food–style favorites like hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue, French fries and ice cream. What could be better in the summertime? This is a to-go stop only, but they do have a few picnic tables outside if you’d like to eat it there. It’s right across the street from the new Jennette’s Pier. Dune Burger is open for lunch and dinner from March to Thanksgiving.

Dunkin’ Donuts

  • 2424 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 10.5
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 480-1629

Visit the two Dunkin’ Donuts locations on the Bypass (or their new location in Corolla next to Food Lion) for coffee, breakfast/lunch sandwiches and, of course, donuts. They serve breakfast all day, and they’re open 24-hours in the summer for all your coffee and donut desires!

Firefly

  • 2706 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 11
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 480-0047

Now in its third season, you won’t be able to miss Firefly with its bright coat of sunny yellow paint. Firefly specializes in coastal Southern comfort cuisine, like bacon-wrapped scallops and shrimp and grits, but their menu is so large and varied that those seeking something lighter will be easily satisfied. You can enjoy a full bar, including an extensive martini menu, and they’ve also added a terrific deck. The relaxed atmosphere and kids’ menu also make it great for families. Even better, kids eat free on Mondays! They are open for dinner daily and for brunch also on Saturday and Sunday. Firefly welcomes large groups and special events.

Fish Heads Grill & Bar

  • 8901 S. Old Oregon Inlet Road, MP 18.5
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 441-5740

Geared up for their third season, Outer Banks Pier has open-deck dining! A roof over the deck just to the side of the pier house shades bar-style seating all around the edge and tables in the center. They are serving hamburgers, fries, steamed shrimp and veggies, fish tacos (yum!) and more. Wine and beer are available, and they also have some breakfast sandwiches for the early birds and anglers. They’re open every day and often have live entertainment during the summer.

Grits Grill

  • 5000 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 14, Outer Banks Mall
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 449-2888

Grits Grill serves up monstrous portions of breakfast foods all day along, with huge fluffy biscuits and all the eggs, bacon and grit combos you can imagine. They also have lunch standards such as hamburgers, sandwiches, soups and salads. They’re open year round, daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Island Snowball Company

  • 5000 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 14, Outer Banks Mall
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 255-1598

Snowballs aren’t just for the kids at this fun tiki hut-themed shop. Choose from 50 mouthwatering homemade flavors poured over finely shaved ice, then pick your own toppings. They even offer sugar-free and dye-free choices. They also offer locally made, hand-dipped ice cream and homemade fudge. The little ones will like the shop’s chalkboard walls and bright colors, and the adults will enjoy seeing art from local artists. They are located in the Outer Banks Mall near Grits Grill.

Kentucky Fried Chicken / Taco Bell

  • 7328 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Bypass, MP 16.5
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 441-3028

Grab a bucket of tried-and-true Kentucky Fried Chicken or some tacos and burritos and head to the beach. The ocean is just across the street. This restaurant is two in one, so it makes pleasing the entire family a breeze. Call for their large group specials.

King Tut’s Weiner Hut

  • 3022 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 11, Pirates Quay
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 255-0103

With more than 20 types of hot dogs and sausage, as well as burgers, chicken, barbecue and breakfast anytime, King Tut’s has something for everyone — all in a fun, casual atmosphere. They offer free table games such as billiards, air hockey, foosball, ping pong and more to their dining customers. Come spend an afternoon or evening of food, fun and games in the most laid back restaurant at the beach. The bar is newly remodeled bar, and the diverse selection of beers and big screen TVs showing regional sporting events will keep anyone in a good mood.

La Fogata Mexican Restaurant

  • 4933 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 14.5
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 441-4179

La Fogata serves traditional Mexican favorites and specialties in a casual atmosphere. Locals love it for offering tasty food at a good value. Within minutes of sitting down, you’ll have warm chips and yummy salsa to munch on while you look over the extensive menu. There’s a full-service bar, and they’re open for lunch and dinner. If you’re heading to Hatteras Island, check out their location in Avon.

Lucky 12 Tavern

  • 3308 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 12
  • Nags Head
  • (252) 255-LUCK

This neighborhood tavern serves quality food at great prices. Lucky 12 has fresh local seafood, hand-patted burgers, great New York-style pizza, authentic Buffalo chicken wings and Boardwalk Fries. Everything is fresh and well-prepared, and the chef creates tasty daily specials. There’s a menu for kids. The dining room is open for lunch and dinner every day. The bar is a popular late-night hangout, with DJs spinning tunes regularly during the summer. You can order pizza until 2 a.m. The bartenders mix up Bushwhackers, delicious frozen cocktails, using the original recipe from Quagmire’s, the now gone but not forgotten beach restaurant. Lucky 12 also has 20 beers on tap and a martini menu. For entertainment there is a pool table, pinball machine and sports on TV, including the popular NFL Sunday ticket the MLB package. Lucky 12 also features an outdoor patio with TVs. They’re open year round.

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